‘A Nearly Normal Family’ Ending Explained: Who Killed Christopher? Was It Stella?

A Nearly Normal Family

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In “A Nearly Normal Family” by M.T. Edvardsson, a riveting question haunts every page, who killed Christopher Olson? As the narrative unfolds, both in the book and its upcoming Netflix adaptation, we find ourselves entangled in the mystery of Stella Sandell, an eighteen-year-old accused of this heinous crime. The story challenges us to ponder the depths of family bonds and the lengths to which we might go to protect those we love, all while wrestling with the uncertainty did Stella really kill Christopher?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • The book “A Nearly Normal Family” doesn’t directly state who killed Christopher Olson, but based on the evidence and narrative clues, I believe Stella Sandell is the likely killer.
  • The Sandell family, initially portrayed as perfect and respectable, is central to the unfolding drama in the novel, highlighting the theme of appearances versus reality.
  • “A Nearly Normal Family” features a unique three-part narrative, giving insights into the perspectives of Adam, Stella, and Ulrika, each adding depth to the story.

The Sandell Family’s perfect facade: Examining the initial setup

At the heart of “A Nearly Normal Family” is the Sandell family, who appear as the epitome of normalcy and respectability. Adam, a pastor, and Ulrika, a criminal defense attorney, along with their daughter Stella, live in Lund, Sweden, embodying a life of stability and virtue. This image of a perfect family is pivotal in setting the stage for the unfolding drama.

It creates a stark contrast to the chaos that ensues, highlighting the fragility of appearances and the hidden complexities beneath. The juxtaposition of their public persona with the private turmoil that begins to surface lays the groundwork for an engaging and suspenseful narrative.

The twisted path to the truth: Stella’s arrest and the ensuing mystery

Stella Sandell’s arrest for the murder of Christopher Olson is the turning point of the novel. Her connection to Christopher, a man much older and with a shady background, is shrouded in mystery. This event forces her parents, Adam and Ulrika, to confront a reality where their daughter might be a murderer.


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The narrative delves into the murky waters of Stella’s life and her possible motives, challenging the family’s and readers’ perceptions of her character. The arrest not only serves as a catalyst for the plot but also marks the beginning of the family’s journey through doubt, fear, and the quest for truth.

A tale of two perspectives: The unique three-part narrative

“A Nearly Normal Family” is distinct in its structure, splitting the story into three parts, each offering a unique perspective.

First part: Adam’s perspective

The novel opens with Adam’s perspective, painting a picture of a family in turmoil. As a pastor, Adam grapples with the moral complexities of his daughter’s accusation. His internal conflict and desperate attempts to shield his family from disgrace set the tone for the narrative. This part lays the groundwork for the mystery, providing insights into the family dynamics and Adam’s troubled thoughts.

Second part: Stella’s perspective

In the second part, the focus shifts to Stella. Here, the narrative dives into her experiences and thoughts while in prison. Stella’s reflections provide a raw and intimate look into her life, challenging the preconceptions established in the first part. This section is crucial in adding depth to Stella’s character, offering a glimpse into her psyche and her side of the story.

Third part: Ulrika’s perspective

The final part of the book is told from the viewpoint of Ulrika, Stella’s mother. As a criminal defense attorney, Ulrika’s perspective brings a unique insight into the legal complexities and emotional turmoil of the case. This part combines the legal aspect of the trial with the personal anguish of a mother in distress, culminating in a powerful and thought-provoking conclusion.

Here’s what we know about who killed Chris

From my analysis of the events and characters, I’ve concluded that Stella Sandell was likely the one who killed Chris. This conclusion isn’t just a hunch; it’s rooted in a specific, pivotal scene from the book that reveals much about Stella’s character and motivations.

On the night of Chris’s death, Stella’s actions provide crucial insight into the mystery. She went to Chris’s apartment after receiving a disturbing text from Amina, her close friend, suspecting Chris had sent it. There, a critical moment unfolded: Stella witnessed Amina fleeing from Chris, who was chasing her. Amina revealed that Chris had assaulted her, triggering Stella’s own traumatic memories and feelings of guilt for not heeding previous warnings about Chris’s dangerous nature. In a moment of heightened emotions – a mix of PTSD, rage, and perhaps a desire to protect Amina – Stella took a knife from Amina.

This scene is telling. Stella’s decision to take the knife, coupled with her complex feelings of jealousy, anger, and trauma, points towards her as Chris’s killer. It suggests that her actions were more than just self-defense; they were fueled by a tumultuous blend of emotions and past experiences. This interpretation of Stella’s behavior, along with the book’s exploration of truth and lies, leads me to believe that she was indeed responsible for the tragic end of Christopher Olson.

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